“It’s my first full season as a pro, and it’s been really good fun.”
George Hill heads into the winter with a spring in his step following a very productive 2021 with both bat and ball.
That Hill has performed across the formats bodes particularly well for the 20-year-old all-rounder, a Yorkshire star of the future.
The former England Under 19s vice captain made 23 competitive appearances for the White Rose during the summer, scoring 521 runs and taking 17 wickets.
But that just scratches the surface for the Sedbergh School product, who was handed the role of opening the batting in the County Championship midway through the summer and looked at home with scores of 71 and 55.
He is still waiting on that big score such as the 153 Adam Lyth scored in the second innings at Nottinghamshire last week. But that will surely come if, as he hopes, Andrew Gale entrusts him with the role next April.
“I’m not really that bothered where I bat, but I enjoy opening. Hopefully I can carry on batting there, but if not I just want to play,” said Keighley-born Hill.
“I’m very happy (in that position).
“It’s nice I’ve had the backing to go out there and play with freedom.
“It’s weird because I’m a bit of an over-thinker. Waiting there to bat with your pads on, you can over-think it. So it’s nice to just get off the pitch from fielding and back on it straightaway.”
Hill was asked to open in the early July Championship clash at Northamptonshire due to injuries to Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Will Fraine – and he contributed 71 in the first innings of a crucial win.
“To do well in that game settled my nerves,” he reflected. “I feel like I’ve got a lot more confidence when I go out to bat, which really helps.
“I wasn’t nervous because I didn’t think anybody really expected me to do that well. It was almost a case of, ‘Go on, have a go’.
“I’ve batted at three for the twos and have been in early doors.
“It is tricky. It does do a lot more. But, at the same time, the ball’s harder and you get value for shots. I try to look at it in a really positive way. If you get a good ball, you get a good ball – you’ll get that as an opener.
“But I try to keep as positive as I can. I enjoyed it.
“Also, in the 50-over competition, it was a great environment to be a part of – mates I’ve played with for a long time mixed in with some senior lads.
“Overall, it’s been a really fun season.”
Hill’s reference to the Royal London one-day Cup brings us to the other area of his game, his skilful seam bowling which was best showcased during that competition when a fledgling Vikings side qualified for the quarter-finals.
In nine appearances, he claimed a trio of three-wicket hauls, including a stunning 3-49 in the amazing heist against Glamorgan at Cardiff which qualified Yorkshire for the knockout phase.
“I bowled off-spin for half of that spell!” he laughed, in reference to the turgid pitch on which the hosts slipped from 123-1 after 30 overs chasing 231.
“I started out a long time ago, in the age-groups, as a bowler who would bat 12!
“Even then, it would come out at about 40mph.
“But I’ve been happy with the way my bowling’s gone, and that’s been a confidence thing.
“When I was 17 or 18 and in the twos, I’d never bowl because we had so many bowlers. I would just play as a batter. Now, I’ve got more responsibility.
“I do enjoy my bowling. I joke about it, but I take it very seriously.
“I’m definitely not the quickest, so my main skill is my consistency.
“I’ve played a lot of white ball cricket, and I’ve got good at hitting that sort of waste high length. But trying to get it that bit fuller and actually bowling it rather than being floaty, that’s definitely helped.”
Hill points to the Championship win over Somerset at Scarborough earlier this month as his favourite moment of the campaign: “That was unbelievable to be a part of. To win in two days was just class,” he said.
Having had a planned winter in Australia kiboshed due to Coronavirus regulations, Hill is now contemplating a winter in the East Stand nets where he will target areas of improvement with both bat and ball.
“A couple of things,” he added. “With the white ball, my range hitting. The T20 showed a bit that my range hitting is not as good as it should be.
“In the red ball, knowing where my fourth stump is. Sometimes this season, especially in the last two games, I’ve followed the ball a bit when it’s a wider.
“With the ball, my alignment is one.
“I’ve noticed, mainly to right-handers, I run in and towards the last seven or eight yards jump out. That means I’m falling away more. So when I try and swing it, it becomes really floaty because I’m beyond the perpendicular.
“If I can run up, keep everything straight and stay taller at the crease, I can get it to kiss off the pitch a bit more.
“Hopefully I’ll come back next summer somewhere near where I want to be.”